The impact of time differences for travel on the spread of contagious diseases

The Impact of Time Differences for Travel on the Spread of Contagious Diseases
The Impact of Time Differences for Travel on the Spread of Contagious Diseases
Ideally, travel serves as a crucial factor in the emergence of diseases, and human
migration has been the hallway for spreading infectious diseases throughout history, especially in
the 18th and 19th centuries. Movement is linked to the dissemination of infectious diseases in
diverse ways, with the common one being the introduction of new microorganisms into a
population or a new geographic region. Numerous contagious diseases manifested in the past,
including typhoid fever, yellow fever, cholera, smallpox, syphilis, plague, and leprosy, among
others. Consequently, transit time contributed a great deal to the spread of infectious diseases
between Europe and the Americas, especially in transporting enslaved people.
In my opinion, long sea voyages experienced in the 18th century enabled the exhaustion
of infectious processes along the way. According to Cossar (1994), this ensured that the imported
workforce was disease resistant due to survival-for-the-fittest tactics, thus minimizing the spread
of infectious diseases in the new regions. On the other hand, the short voyage time realized in the
19th century propagated the vast spread of infectious from Europe to the Americas in that
infected individuals reached the intended destination while the infectious processes were still
active. As a result, the infected workforce interacted with the rest of the population, prompting
rapid transmission of diverse contagious diseases in the new region. Overall, the diseases
imported along with the enslaved people led to enormous decimation of the colonists than the
labor force, who appeared relatively immune.
Cossar, J. H. (1994). Influence of travel and disease: a historical perspective. Journal of Travel
Medicine, 1(1), 36-39.

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